The Tallgrass and Botanica Pretty in Pink night for the ladies seemed like such a long, long time ago. It was May, and the temperature was. . . . Well, it was May, and so who was even thinking of a two-digit day versus a three-digit day? Now, here in the second week of July, a “mid 90s” forecast was considered a day of relief from the heat. A visit to the Botanica/Tallgrass Goonies children's night sounded like a good time for someone else.
But then I learned of a neighbor, William, a nine-year-old, who was going. He reported thinking about it all day several days in advance of the event. His enthusiasm was contageous. An outdoor movie, in gardens, with noisy, hot children did not sound unpleasant in the least.
On Wednesday, it was not a long wait for the doors to swing open at Botanica, and the crowd of parents and children and grandparents and children swept through the refrigerated building and into the lush gardens. On the way, someone handed a goodie bag to William, and a treasure map, too. William quickly sized up the situation and led the way to a garden where the pirate-era costumed woman handed each child who approached a compass.
The next treasure required a walk through the Butterfly House and a meeting with the tall man dressed like a pirate. There, the pirate held up a replica coin and asked William if he knew what that was.
“A gold doubloon,” William explained.
Outside the Butterfly House, an adult with him began to offer guidance, but William pointed to the map. “We stop over here, and then we go to our destiny!” He showed us on the map where Destiny was not actually marked.
Destiny, it turns out, is a place with frozen custard and chocolate milk and a movie screen.
By the time we reached our Destiny and began marking off our territory with blankets, many children wore the eyepatch handed out along the way. A little girl in a tutu wore one. Two brothers in identical white t-shirts wore them. It seems like the boy in the green mohawk was wearing one. There appeared to be, at least for a few minutes, a family with four or five children behind us, all on one blanket, all wearing the patches. One Tallgrass staffer was equipped with bug spray, and waving bottles of it around, offering some to anyone who requested it.
The movie started scary, and then got back to the kid friends jostling with each other, and there was a long scene with a replica of Michaelangelo's David getting broken and the kids' efforts to repair it.
Someone next to our blanket said, “I don't remember this part at all.”
Corey Feldman's character was bamboozling the maid with bad Spanish translations. William leaned over and whispered, “He's lying.”
William (eyepatch removed) sat upright on the lawn chair, bent forward, paying very close attention. As dusk and then dark settled in, the screen colors became more vivid, and for a while, many, many children were quiet and waiting to learn what would happen next.
It seemed like a good time to look around—the kids on the screen were talking too fast for me to get what was going on anyway. Walking towards the building in the evening, I noticed the gardens of Botanica began to look like an extremely well-tended and old park, and not so much the series of themed gardens a walk through during the day presents. One couple with a child walked slowly towards the building far up the path.
When the movie was over and we walked to the car, William volunteered that the movie was really about “being nice to others like you want to be treated.” Don't, however, be fooled by his generous analysis: His babysitter reported that as they made the way-past-bedtime trip back to his place, William had sighed. He said, “There was entirely too much romance in that movie.”